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A Nicaraguan Votes for Mrs. Chamorro

MOISES VANEGAS PASCUAS stood barefoot in the birthplace of the Sandinista revolution Sunday morning watching 150 voters line up in front of his house to vote. The old man with a white sprout of a beard was recalling the glory days of Monimb'o, the days after Pedro Joaqu'in Chamorro Cardenal's death in 1978 when the emerging Sandinista rebels used Mr. Vanegas's neighborhood to escape the National Guard of former dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle.

His family used to help the rebels hide among the labyrinth of streets that drapes the hills here, giving them food and shelter in return for promises about the likely fruits of the ``poor man's revolution.''

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To his delight, the Sandinistas toppled Somoza in 1979. But to his dismay - and to that of thousands of other Monimb'o residents - the promises of the Sandinistas weren't kept.

``They said everything was going to improve,'' says Vanegas. ``And there were two good years. They gave us everything we needed; oil, milk, food. But then they forgot about us. How could they forget about us?''

Like many others in this community of dirt roads, Vanegas cast his vote Sunday for opposition candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.

Joining the opposition is nothing new for Vanegas or the people of Monimb'o. In the early 1980s, this community became the center for the first confrontation against the Sandinista government.

A few years later, angry mothers marched on the local Army headquarters to protest the forced recruitment of their sons. Three riots have stemmed from such protests in the past three years.

But for Vanegas, the issues this year were not so much political, but economic. He ticks off the prices for his most essential goods - rice, beans, and cornmeal - complaining that these prices have risen almost beyond his reach. Like most Nicaraguans, whose consumption of goods has decreased 70 percent since 1981, Vanegas and his family have had to reduce their diet to one or two meals a day.

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